- Contributed by
- John de Mansfield AbsolonResearcher 238443
- People in story:
- 6th City of London Rifles
- Location of story:
- WW2 Battlefields
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 August 2004
Sitting at my computer yesterday I felt an odd scratching feeling on the palm my left hand. Looking down I noticed a small piece of metal protruding which I extracted with a pin, this set me thinking. 1940 August, a gun pit at the junction of the Kent Surrey Sussex borders. All of 16 I was manning an AA Lewis gun. There was a major air battle going on overhead. The air was full of aircraft noise and gunfire, we had already seen 6 aircraft shot down including a Dornier that crashed about 300 yards away, three of the crew had parachuted out but the crashing aircraft caught one parachute on its tail. Suddenly a roar of machine-gun and cannon fire, a Messerschmidt 109 was firing at our gun pit. We had all been watching the battle in the North East and the 109 had come in from the South West
He must have let a short burst go at us and most rounds hit the gun pit. I managed to swing the gun round and got off a few rounds as he pulled away the plane was smoking as he disappeared at low level to southeast. One or two cannon shells must have come into the gun pit and hit the railway sleeper the gun was mounted on as I got one or two small splinters which have been working their way out ever since. Ted and I argue about this incident, he maintains that are saved his life by pushing him to the bottom of the gun pit, what actually happened was that I knocked him over bringing the gun to bear and I might have done better if he hadn't been in the way. We had this argument again only a few weeks ago
Thinking about the Past.
All this made me think of the people I knew in those days and made me wonder what had happened to them. The pilot of the 109 did he curse me as he was flying a plane instead of being at university? Then there was Tubby what happened to him and of course Wilbur so it goes on there was Milson four years in the trenches 14 -- 18 war, Bassett the cook in the British Army in Dublin during the rising, shooting at a Lewis gunner in the Post Office. His best friend was Paddy with whom he regularly got drunk. Paddy was the Lewis gunner , obviously being an Irishman he thought if you can't beat them join them. The list goes on, Whilshire killed in Normandy, Loftus who had to shave twice a day, Pickett joined the Maritime AA last heard of rescued after four days in an open boat, and many many more.
6th City of London Rifles (Cast Iron 6th) formed as a territorial unit prior to World War I headquarters Farringdon Street, London E.C. wiped out in one day on the Western Front re-formed converted to searchlights as the 31st S/L Regiment R.E.T.A. and moved to drill halls on the out skirts of SW London up to strength with territorial soldiers on mobilisation 1939 and deployed in south-east England converted to 123rd LAA Regiment Royal Artillery and landed with the 3rd Division in Normandy. Re-formed after a second world war as a LAA Regiment in the same area. Now disbanded but the drill halls are still there.
Of those thousand men who paraded August -- September 1939 who said goodbye to their families little thinking that it would be 6 long years before returning,How many are left now? And those that came back did anybody want to listen to them to know what they experienced? They had been away out of the shortages and bombing and flying bombs etc.. So they shut up and tried to forget the past. This September spare a thought for them.
And they received each for his own memory praise that will never die;
And with it the grandest of all sepulchres-
Not that in which their mortal remains are hid-
But a home in the minds of men.
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